Tag Archives: house of commons

Daisy Cooper: PM must tell Neil Parish to resign

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper has called on Boris Johnson to tell Neil Parish, the Conservative MP alleged to have watched adult content on his phone in the Commons Chamber, to resign as MP for Tiverton and Honiton in Devon.

While Parish himself has said that he will do so if an enquiry into his behaviour finds against him, Daisy says that in any other workplace, an issue like this would be resolved speedily.

If Boris Johnson had any shred of decency left, he would tell Neil Parish to resign immediately.

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What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

Holyrood and Westminster are back from their half term break this week and the Senedd starts its break. Here’s what to watch out for.

Westminster

The Lords get to grips with the Elections Bill. Unlock Democracy have written to peers expressing their concerns with the measures it contains.

The bill gives this Government, and future governments, unprecedented power over the way our elections are run.

I want to give you one clear example of this.

Elections in the UK are overseen by an independent watchdog, the Electoral Commission. This bill would give the power to the Government of the day to set the commission’s policy and strategy. Furthermore oversight of the Commission’s work is carried out by the Speaker’s Committee, which now, for the first time, has a Government majority.

Put simply, this leaves the fox guarding the henhouse.

It means that a Conservative Government could tell the Electoral Commission to focus its efforts on investigating union funding of Labour. It could mean that a future Labour Government tells the Commission to focus investigations on Conservative donors.

This power shouldn’t be in the hands of any Government – it should stay in the hands of the independent watchdog.

Most readers of this site will agree and you can sign up to support this here.

On Wednesday Lib Dem peer Mike Storey has a question on the effect of Covid-19 on school children in the most deprived communities and Sarah Ludford will be leading for us on the Refugees Family Reunion Bill.

On Thursday, Don Foster has a debate on the link between gambling advertising and gambling related harm.

On Friday Alison Suttie has a debate on “An Electoral System fit for Today”

In the Commons, Munira Wilson has a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the old Teddington Police Station. She and local Council Leader Gareth Roberts want it to be used for affordable housing and wrote to the Mayor to express that view recently:

Munira Wilson MP and Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, have written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan calling for the site of the former Teddington Police Station to be retained for community use. The site is currently being advertised for sale on the open market.

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What’s going on in our Parliaments this week? 17-21 January 2022

Lib Dem highlights in our legislatures this week include Jamie Stone holding a debate on gas and electricity costs while Lib Dem peers take on some of the Government’s nastier Bills. Watch out for Brian Paddick on the Police Bill and Sal Brinton on the Health and Care Bill.

In Wales, Jane Dodds has a debate on free public transport for young people on Wednesday

So what’s happening?

Westminster

Monday kicks off in the Commons with Priti Patel and the Home Office ministerial team answering questions from MPs.

They then go on to debate the Elections Bill, which would disenfranchise many people from deprived backgrounds, who are less likely to vote Conservative, by requiring voter ID. It’s sickening voter suppression.

The Lords take on the dreadful Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and you can read our take on that here.

On Tuesday, MPs question Sajid Javid and then go on to debate the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill and a money resolution on the Charities Bill.

Jamie Stone has a Westminster Hall debate on the cost of gas and electricity.

Peers have the first of two days this week on the Health and Social Care BIll.

Commons business on Wednesday kicks off with questions to COP 26 President Alok Sharma, then you have to wonder what PMQs will throw up this week. MPs then turn their attention to the Building Safety Bill

The Lords deals with the Northern Ireland Bill and the Subsidy Control Bill. Several Lib Dems, including Malcolm Bruce and Jenny Randerson, are down to speak.

Thursday sees  international trade questions in the Commons followed by two general debates, the first on a motion relating to the Uyghur Tribunals and the second on Lawfare and the UK Court System.

Meanwhile the Lords have another day on the Health and Care Bill.

Holyrood

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20 years on: Charles Kennedy’s speech at the 9/11 recall of Parliament

Twenty years ago today, Parliament was recalled to debate the 9/11 terror attacks. Charles Kennedy, our then leader, spoke with customary good sense. He spoke of the need for international organisations to rise to the occasion. He spoke of his concern at the way asylum seekers and immigrants were already starting to be demonised. Here is his speech in full:

On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I wholly associate the Liberal Democrats with the proper sentiments that have been expressed so well by the Prime Minister and by the new leader of the Conservative party—whom I congratulate despite the sad circumstances that coincide with his election—about the breathtaking nature of the savagery that we have witnessed in the United States. Many of our constituents and communities throughout our land, never mind the United States and the wider international community, will have been affected.

We all have a heavy heart today. As I listened to the Prime Minister, I thought back into history. Speaking in the House of Commons in very different circumstances, John Bright spoke of the sense that the angel of death was floating above the Chamber. There is no doubt that the angel of death is very much with us today.

I spent one of the happiest years of my life as a student in the mid-west of the United States, in Indiana, and I have been a fairly regular visitor back and forth to New York in the 20 years since then. Until I became a student in the United States, I did not understand how mid-west America feels divorced from east coast and west coast America. Speaking to friends—including one who once worked in one of the buildings that were attacked but who, just before the summer, was transferred further down Wall street and was therefore not afflicted by this terrible tragedy—I was struck by the remarkable extent to which middle America, east coast America and west coast America have become united as never before. We, a country on the other side of the Atlantic, must not underestimate that. We have to understand the scale of the shock and the unity that it has brought about in that great country and on that great continent.

Yesterday afternoon, in common with the Conservative party leader, the Prime Minister, the former Conservative party leader and other Members of Parliament, I went to sign the condolence book in Grosvenor square. It was remarkable to read the sentiments expressed there. There was a bouquet of flowers from a Polish ex-service man in the second world war, now domiciled in London. A family from Dagenham who had no connections with the United States wanted to say how sorry they were. American tourists here in London are bereft because they do not know what has happened to people they know, family or loved ones: they are without information.

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Wendy Chamberlain has to miss key votes because of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s stubbornness

Poor Wendy Chamberlain hasn’t had much luck this Summer. She was pinged not once but twice by the app before the rules changed which meant she had to spend much of July cooped up in her London flat. She was still able to take part in votes in Parliament, though, and speak, because she was able to take part virtually.

But all that modernity was too much for Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. As soon as the rules ended, so did the chance to participate remotely in Parliament. That is out of step with many workplaces which are moving to some sort of hybrid arrangement.

So, when Wendy again found herself having to isolate yesterday while waiting for the result of a PCR test, she had to voting last night and she wasn’t happy.

Watching the House of Commons proper freaks me out. Seeing MPs crammed together in what is a pretty small space seems to me to be an unnecessary risk. And when did we get to the stage where wearing a tiny bit of material across your mouth and nose to protect others becomes a political issue, not a matter of basic courtesy and consideration. The opposition benches are full of people who are wearing masks when they are not speaking yet only a few Conservatives have them on. I know that there are medical exemptions, and that’s fine, but they apply to a very small number of people. I can’t imagine that this applies to virtually every single Conservative MP.

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Diana Maddock, remembered by her first researcher

Of all the heartfelt tributes to Diana Maddock this weekend, one on Facebook by George Crozier, whose first job was as her parliamentary researcher immediately after her spectacular by-election win in 1993.

He has very kindly agreed to let me post it on here so that you can all enjoy it too. I will admit to a few tears when I read it.

He recounts how well they got on and has some details about her parliamentary work (eg against puppy farms) that we might otherwise have missed.

George tells how she was reported in the local press and how she worked so hard as a constituency MP.

Kind and wise are two words we’ve heard a lot describing her over the last few days, and this post sums up why.

Hugely saddened by the news yesterday of the death of my first boss, Diana Maddock. Diana was a lovely person – I can’t recall us ever falling out during the three and a half years I worked for her though there were plenty of stressful moments – speeches finished with minutes to spare among the most common. She was a genuinely caring and thoughtful employer – though what she was thinking when she got me a Mickey Mouse tie for Christmas one year is anyone’s guess!

I first knew Diana in Southampton, where I was a student and she was Lib Dem council group leader and a parliamentary candidate in 1992. My house – or rather Rosemary Hasler’s – was the campaign headquarters that year, such as it was, so I lived for months amid stacks of Maddock Focuses and stakeboards. Then the following year the Christchurch by-election was called just a few weeks after I graduated, Diana was selected to fight it, and I spent so much time there that I ended up as the campaign caseworker for the final week and after she won – biggest ever swing against the Conservatives in a by-election at the time – she took a leap of faith (for which I will be forever grateful) and hired me as her researcher.

I say hired – the timing of her election was such that she couldn’t take her seat until Parliament returned in October so none of us (including Diana I think) were paid for nearly three months. Most of that summer was spent with Diana, Andrew Garratt and others in the Ferndown office sorting through rooms (literally!) full of papers of all kinds from the by-election. The scale of that campaign had to be seen to be believed. There were days when the whole constituency was canvassed and separately delivered. The detritus we had to sort through probably added a percentage point to the district council’s recycling rate!

Diana was a brilliant constituency MP – the absolute model of how to go about building non-political support through visits, regular surgeries, diligent casework, taking up local issues in Parliament and keeping constituents informed through local papers and post, in the days when this kind of thing was a novelty. We once saw an internal Conservative note expressing exasperation that she seemed to be everywhere – why were so many local groups asking to meet her? Why were people asking her to open fetes? Why? (The answer to the latter, it emerged, after she was bounced out of the ceremonial opening of the Verwood Carnival one year, was closely related to the availability or otherwise of local celebrity Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses). But hey, that’s life, and she took this crushing blow in her stride.)

I remember once hearing from the Bournemouth Echo’s Westminster correspondent that he loved the story we were giving him but he couldn’t cover it because he’d already given her twice the coverage that week of the county’s seven Tory MPs put together. On another occasion he confided that a Dorset Tory had complained to him about the amount of coverage he gave to Diana. He had had to find a way to diplomatically explain that he was just reflecting the news generation and activity levels of the local MPs as they appeared to him.

Not all the media was perfect of course. One article about the by-election win referred to the victor, a Mrs Diane Haddock. Another, in The Guardian I think, was more to our taste. Challenging a claim somewhere else that the old folk in the constituency had taken to Diana because they identified with, her it asserted that, to the contrary, nice middle-aged Mrs Maddock brought a touch of glamour to the town – in the ‘zimmerframe world of Christchurch’ (the constituency was, I think, the second oldest in the country) Diana Maddock was, it asserted, a veritable Sharon Stone!

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Wendy Chamberlain MP: Census must reflect diversity to make sure all people count

This week, Parliament debated the Census which will take place next year. Wendy Chamberlain highlighted the need to ask the right questions to make sure that all people are taken into consideration when planning future public services. She also talked about the need for everyone to be able to take part. As the census moves online, how will people who don’t have access to computers take part?

She also took the opportunity to challenge Liz Truss’s remarks on health care for transgender people, saying how important it is for members of the government to watch that their language does not exclude people.

Watch her speech here. The text is below.

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Indicative votes open thread

So how did Liberal Democrat MPs vote in the indicative votes taking place tonight.

What’s on offer?

There’s C – Ken Clarke’s customs union, sponsored by Norman Lamb but most Lib Dem MPs will abstain. Wera Hobhouse voted against last week.

D – Nick Boles’ Common Market 2.0, again sponsored by Norman Lamb. Ours are expected to abstain because it, like C, is implemented by 22 May without a confirmatory referendum.

E – The Kyle/Wilson/Beckett confirmatory referendum one. All ours should be voting for this

G – Joanna Cherry/s and Dominic Grieve’s brilliant amendment which could have been written by Cambridge Lib Dem activist Sarah Brown. Two years ago, she suggested revoking Article 50 and having a conversation about where we wanted to go as a nation. Grieve and Cherry suggest an inquiry into the Brexit process. That could certainly highlight the extent of the Vote Leave law breaking and find solutions to the problems that made people vote leave. Norman Lamb abstained on the similar amendment last week but the others should all vote for it.

What have our MPs said about their votes?

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Indicative votes – where do they leave us?

Embed from Getty Images

The Guardian has a breakdown of the indicative votes last night, and a tool so that you can find out how your MP voted.

First of all, the indicative vote process is very much to be welcomed. It should have happened a lot earlier and been repeated at regular intervals IMHO.

We are seeing a preferential voting system of sorts here – there will hopefully be a further “second round” process next Monday.

Last night’s vote showed the Customs Union and the People’s Vote option emerging as front-runners. I think we can be optimistic that this is the beginning of a positive process.

Yesterday we had Steve Baker, from the Conservative European Reform Group, saying:

I could tear this place down and bulldoze it into the river. These fools and knaves and cowards are voting on things they don’t even understand.

The problem is that he can’t have it both ways. People who want to “take back control” from the EU, need to decide what they want. They either want a Parliamentary Representative Democracy where the people elect representatives who then study the issues and decide upon them. Or they want a Swiss system of frequent, often repetitive plebescites. If Steve Baker wants to bulldoze parliament, what does he want in its place?

Vince Cable has provided a succinct summary of the situation now, describing last night as “A big win”:

Last night, the House of Commons predictably failed to alight on a single way forward on Brexit – but the centre of gravity is a lot clearer than it was.

A record 268 MPs voted with the Liberal Democrats for a people’s vote. This was the most popular vote of the night and got more votes than the Prime Minister’s deal has ever got.

While no proposal commanded a majority, the largest support is for a People’s Vote.

And we discovered yesterday that Theresa May is, at last, accepting the inevitable by preparing to leave office. Her dogged attempts to “deliver Brexit” – with Jeremy Corbyn’s help – have cost her her job.

Yet the Prime Minister nonetheless appears to be planning to make one final attempt at securing her deal tomorrow.

The fact she thinks she could have a chance of winning demonstrates the cynicism of her opponents in the Tory Party. Until very recently they were telling us – as an absolute principle – that they could not support her deal under any circumstances.

They now fear Brexit is at risk.

And they are right.

After three years of campaigning, public opinion has decisively moved in favour of remaining in the EU, with 60% indicating they would support staying in the EU in a new referendum, nearly 6 million demanding revocation of Article 50, and more than a million marching with us last weekend.

It is absolutely crucial that we keep campaigning and keep the pressure up on MPs in other parties to support us.

It is clearer than ever is that however, the Government proceeds the public must have the final say.

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When will Commons drag itself into this century?

It’s horrifying to think that an MP has been forced to delay her caesarean section in order to vote on the Brexit deal tomorrow.

Hampstead and Kilburn’s Tulip Siddiq told The Standard

If my son enters the world even one day later than the doctors advised, but it’s a world with a better chance of a strong relationship between Britain and Europe, then that’s worth fighting for.”

The Royal Free has been very clear on their legal and health duties. This is a high risk pregnancy and I am doing this against doctor’s advice.

Any idea that a pairing arrangement would be honoured was blown apart by Brandon Lewis’s failure to honour the agreement with Jo Swinson when her baby Gabriel was just weeks old last Summer.

People were also horrified to see Labour MP Naz Shah, who was sick and in pain, wheeled through the voting lobby.

There is a much more humane way of doing this – allowing MPs who are incapacitated in some way to cast their votes by proxy. Nobody should have to be taken to their place of work by ambulance to perform part of their duties.

Jo Swinson made it clear how she felt about the situation:

You have to wonder if they’d have been swifter to act if any of the babies due had been pm their side.

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Leadsom, Lewis and Smith in trouble over Jo Swinson pairing scandal

Remember when the Tories cheated in order to win the tight vote in Parliament, just like Vote Leave cheated to win the EU Referendum?

Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis, paired with Jo Swinson who was at home with her two week old baby, should not have voted on Tuesday night. He honoured that in the first few, but in the really crucial ones, on the European Medicines Agency (which the Government lost) and the customs union, (which the Government narrowly won), he cast his vote. Now, had he voted in the earlier divisions, Alistair Carmichael, our Chief Whip, might have noticed …

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All the best, Jo…

This afternoon, MPs who really shouldn’t have been in the House of Commons, either through very advanced pregnancy or serious illness, had to go in and vote on that Brexit amendment.

One of them was our Jo Swinson, who is two days past her due date with her second baby. It is entirely unsurprising that she made it in to vote. Anyone who knows how committed and determined she is will know that unless she was in fairly advanced labour, she would made it. She still deserves respect for doing so. Most women have stopped going into the office …

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EU Withdrawal Bill: This isn’t over yet

Anyone feeling a bit jaded after today’s events in Parliament?

I mean, honestly, you have at the start of the day a very smug Arron Banks blithely telling anyone who would listen that Leave.EU “led people up the garden path” (that’s lied to you and I).

A few hours later, at the other side of the Parliamentary Estate, MPs fail to adequately hold the Government to account on their atrocious, democracy-undermining, devolution-busting disaster of an EU Withdrawal Bill.

The day had started quite promisingly with the resignation of a Government Minister who then proceeded to buy the Govenrment’s concession and abstained …

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Jamie Stone’s identity likely “stolen by a drug dealer in Manchester”

In a debate on cyber security this week, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Jamie Stone talked of his shock at receiving a letter threatening him with a fine and points on his licence for a traffic accident in Greater Manchester.

This is how it all unfolded. The Speaker started it off:

Order. The hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone) has just sent me a most gracious letter of apology in respect of a matter for which he has no reason whatsoever to apologise. I think we ought to hear the fella.

Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)

I received a letter last week from Greater Manchester police that informed me that on 18 April I was involved in a vehicle collision in Salford and that, if I am convicted, I will face a fine of £1,000 and get six points on my licence. As many Members will testify, I was in this place on 18 April. This is a clear example of identity theft. Greater Manchester police have been most helpful and told me that it is likely that a drug dealer in Manchester has stolen my identity. You will be interested to know, Mr Speaker, that he has put down my occupation as “cobbler”. I would be interested to know what the Minister has to say.

Mr Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has got his point on the record with considerable alacrity.

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Janet Fookes’ winning ways – and they had nothing to do with her red hair!

Last week on t’internet, a toe-curling interview from 1970 (above) was doing the rounds.

It featured a newly elected MP speaking on the BBC election night TV programme.

Nothing unusual about that, except that it was – GASP! – a woman MP!!!!!!!

The behaviour, during and after the appearance of Janet Fookes, of Robin Day and Cliff Michelmore gave whole new meaning to the word “patronising”.

So I thought it would be a good idea to balance things out.

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WATCH: Tom Brake’s speech in Brexit Bill debate: This Bill must be resisted at every turn

Tom Brake spoke for the Lib Dems in the Commons debate on the Brexit Bill today. Watch in full here. The text is below.

There were some excellent speeches after the Secretary of State’s. Things went slight downhill after that but things started to look up with the maiden speech by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield). I have just one slight criticism: she did not mention Barham in her list of villages, which is one I know very well. I thank the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) for his speech and his reference to the monstrosity that is this Bill.

The Liberal Democrats believe that Parliament must be given comprehensive sovereignty and scrutiny over this process. This opinion is widely supported, not just by many Members on both sides of this House but organisations such as the Law Society, which states that the Bill

“must respect parliament’s role in making and approving changes to UK law”.

Parliament must drive the future of the United Kingdom and of Brexit, not Ministers using executive—indeed dictatorial—powers to exercise total control over the legislative process. The Government’s decision to provide just two days for Second Reading means that Members will have just five minutes in which to make their points and eight days in Committee for a Bill that unravels 40 years of closer EU co-operation, shows the extent to which Parliament is held in contempt by Ministers.

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Tom Brake’s quiet revolution – but there’s so much more that should change about the Commons

Tom Brake achieved a bit of a baby step towards the 21st Century for MPs this week when he had the audacity to ask a Minister a question while not wearing a tie. Heaven forfend!

Conservative MP Peter Bone grassed him up to the Speaker and asked if the rules had changed. John Bercow replied that as long as the attire was “business-like” it was fine. No tie was necessary.

 So far as the Chair is concerned, I must say to the hon. Gentleman, although I fear this will gravely disquiet him, that it seems to me that as long as a Member arrives in the House in what might be thought to be business-like attire, the question of whether that Member is wearing a tie is not absolutely front and centre stage. So am I minded not to call a Member simply because that Member is not wearing a tie? No. I think there has always been some discretion for the Chair to decide what is seemly and proper. Members should not behave in a way that is disrespectful of their colleagues or of the institution, but do I think it is essential that a Member wears a tie? No. Opinions on the hon. Gentleman’s choice of ties do tend to vary, and it has to be said that the same could be said of my own.

This is of course not the first time that Lib Dem MPs have been at the forefront of such change. It was Duncan Hames who took his baby son through the division lobby back in 2014.

So that’s all well and good, but what about addressing some of the bigger issues about the way the Commons operates? There is so much else that needs to change to bring the Parliament closer to the people. Anyone watching the proceedings for the first time would not feel that they had any relevance in the real world.

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Kenneth Clarke’s speech in the Article 50 debate

Today, MPs began debating amendments to the Government’s White Paper entitled “The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union” in the Committee stage. We publish this speech from Kenneth Clarke (from last week’s Article 50 Commons debate) in the hope of putting some “backbone” (Alistair Campbell‘s word) into MPs as they contemplate a national cordless bungee jump into a dark abyss.

We don’t normally publish speeches by Conservatives, but this one has a particularly good section about Alice in Wonderland, and an excellent ending, referring to Burke:

I am very fortunate to be called this early. I apologise to my right hon. Friend—my old friend—but 93 other Members are still waiting to be called, so if he will forgive me, I will not give way.

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Tom Brake’s speech in the Article 50 debate

The final Liberal Democrat contribution in the Article 50 debate came from Tom Brake. We have published all the others as it is important for us all to be aware of what our MPs did and said on this most momentous of decisions.

I hope that I am wrong, but I believe that the decision that the country took on 23 June will result in the biggest self-inflicted wound since our disastrous intervention in Iraq. That wound is festering and it will leave the UK permanently economically weaker, even after it has healed. I believe that, when Members of Parliament believe that a course of action is going to be a catastrophe, they have a duty to harry, assail and oppose the Government, not to acquiesce.

I respect those who voted to leave. They had, and have, genuine grievances about a lack of jobs or education prospects, and concerns about the changes they see in our society, including concerns about immigration. The Brexiteers claimed that leaving the EU would address those concerns by stopping the cancellation of urgent hospital operations—paid for, presumably, by the tsunami of cash that was going to come to the NHS post-Brexit—improving teacher shortages in our schools and boosting housing supply. It will not do any of those things. In fact, it will make them worse. I doubt that even the leave campaign’s most prominent pledge, to reduce immigration substantially, will be achieved. Why would it be? After all, the Prime Minister has spent many years seeking to reduce the level of non-EU immigration, and nothing changed there.

What leaving the EU will do with certainty is diminish us as a nation and reduce our influence and international standing. That has already happened. Brexit has forced our Prime Minister, a born-again hard-line Brexiteer, to line up with Trump—indeed, to walk hand in hand with him. While European leaders and Canada condemned his Muslim ban, our Prime Minister’s initial response was to say, “Not my business.” Worse, she immediately offered him, with indecent haste, a state visit—far quicker than any other US President—which I am sure had absolutely nothing to do with her desperation to secure a trade deal, any deal, with the protectionist Trump.

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ICYMI: Sarah Olney’s speech in the Article 50 debate: We can’t build country without fear & poverty by turning our back on our neighbours

When I think of the country that I would like my generation to give to our children, I think of a country that lives without fear, poverty and inequality, but we cannot build that world by turning our back on our neighbours, closing the door to our friends, turning a blind eye to tyranny or walking hand in hand with intolerance.

Sarah Olney has got the hang of making great speeches in the House of Commons pretty quickly. In the Article 50 debate, she spoke from the heart while revealing the obfuscation of the Government as they try to deny people the true information about the consequences of Brexit. Here is her speech in full:

In this country, we have settled, through a process of trial and error, on a system of parliamentary democracy as the most effective form of governance. The importance of Parliament’s role was once again asserted by the Supreme Court last week. The responsibility of parliamentarians is clear: to take decisions in the best interests of the country with particular regard for the needs of their constituents. I believe that leaving the European Union will be hugely damaging for this country; the British people, through the referendum, narrowly expressed a different view. It is now up to Parliament to take account of the result of the referendum and decide what is in the best interests of the country.

There is no evidence, and none has been presented, that the best interests of the country will be served by the immediate triggering of article 50 and the pursuit of the hardest Brexit possible. It seems to me an abdication of responsibility to say that the only factor that can be considered in deciding whether to trigger article 50 is the result of the referendum. “The will of the people” cannot be tied down to one single point and be presumed never to change or waver. It should not be assumed that the decision of a narrow majority of people, willing and entitled to express a view on 23 June, should be the only thing to determine the fate of the whole population for now and many decades into the future. This is not the end of the debate; it is only the beginning.

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In full: Tim Farron’s speech in the Article 50 debate

Tim Farron spoke in the Commons debate on Article 50 this afternoon. Here is his speech in full:

She is not in her place now, but I want to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Dr Johnson) for her excellent maiden speech.

Liberal Democrats have always been proud internationalists. It was the Liberals who backed Winston Churchill’s European vision in the 1950s, even when his own party did not do so. Since our foundation, we have been champions of Britain’s role in the European Union and fought for co-operation and openness with our neighbours and with our allies. We have always believed that the challenges that Britain faces in the 21st century—climate change, terrorism and economic instability—are best tackled working together as a member of the European Union.

Being proud Europeans is part of our identity as a party, and it is part of my personal identity too. Personally, I was utterly gutted by the result. Some on the centre left are squeamish about patriotism; I am not. I am very proud of my identity as a northerner, as an Englishman, as a Brit, and as a European—all those things are consistent. My identity did not change on 24 June, and neither did my values, my beliefs, or what I believe is right for this country and for future generations. I respect the outcome of the referendum. The vote was clear—close, but clear—and I accept it.

But voting for departure is not the same as voting for a destination. Yes, a narrow majority voted to leave the EU, but the leave campaign had no plans, no instructions, no prospectus and no vision. No one in this Government, no one in this House and no one in this country has any idea of what the deal the Prime Minister will negotiate with Europe will be—it is completely unknown. How, then, can anyone pretend that this undiscussed, unwritten, un-negotiated deal in any way has the backing of the British people? The deal must be put to the British people for them to have their say. That is the only way to hold the Government to account for the monumental decisions they will have to take over the next two years.

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ICYMI: Nick Clegg’s brilliant speech on Article 50 Bill

I am so proud of Nick Clegg who made one of the speeches of his life, and one of the best I have ever heard in Parliament, in the Article 50 Bill yesterday. You would hope that such a momentous decision would bring out the best in our MPs.  It certainly did for Nick whose oratory was mature, passionate, honest and searingly critical of a Government acting in its party’s, not the national interest, Watch it here.

The full text, including the interventions, is below:

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Parliament is going to have to do better than today

What a depressing spectacle we witnessed in the House of Commons today.

A government which had just had a kicking from the Supreme Court for trying to do something unconstitutional should have been subdued and its representatives should have had their tails between their legs. But why should it, when its main opposition party lay prostrate in front of it.

Rather than look sheepish, David Davis was smug.

It should be so different. We should be building up to a dramatic parliamentary occasion. Gavin Williamson, the Government Chief Whip, shouldn’t be able to sleep at night because he’s worried about whether votes will be won. As it is, he could spend the next couple of weeks lying on the sofa with a beer watching re-runs of The Thick of It.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 20 Comments

Nick Clegg challenges David Davis over Brexit

Nick Clegg has had a right go at David Davis over the lack of Parliamentary Scrutiny over Brexit. He questioned after Davis made a statement to the Commons.

From the BBC:

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, now his party’s EU spokesman, says the Commons has a “rightful role of scrutiny”.

David Davis suggests that Mr Clegg “cannot tell the difference between scrutiny and micro-management” – to some degree of uproar in the House.

Labour MP Angela Eagle says this is “the first time I’ve ever heard Parliamentary sovereignty described as micro-management”.

His intervention was well received:

Afterwards, Nick tweeted:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

Farron: PM must clear up David Davis’s single market mess

Yesterday, Brexit Secretary David Davis made his first parliamentary statement since his appointment and it didn’t reveal very much. Our EU spokesperson was not impressed:

Paul Walter found some cause for optimism but there were also some very worrying aspects.of his answers to questions from 85 backbenchers.

He stated that full access to the single market was “very improbable.”

I am saying that this Government are looking at every option, but the simple truth is that if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders, then I think that makes that very improbable.

Tim Farron has written to Theresa May to ask her to clarify exactly what he meant. Is the Government actually giving up on the single market before we even start? If so, that is a real disaster for the country.

Tim said:

David Davis yesterday seemed to rule out membership of the single market for access, in a statement, from the government, at the dispatch box.  I know it has been a while since he was on the front bench and he might be rusty but these things matter.

The public need to know if ideological zeal is threatening our economic security.  It is time for the Prime Minister to step in and clear up the mess.

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WATCH: In full: Tim Farron on the Queen’s Speech

Here is Tim Farron’s speech in full from the Queen’s Speech debate. He cracks some pretty decent jokes, maybe a couple that aren’t quite as funny, and sets out what we would have done differently.

He also took time to pay tribute to David Rendel.

The text follows.

Mr Speaker, may I first start by commending the Honourable Member for Meriden and the Honourable Member for Bracknell for the grace and humour with which they moved and seconded the humble address.

These occasions often show the House at its best and its worst and I think we would all agree that their speeches were examples of the former.

And as the Prime Minister did, may I pay tribute to Harry Harpham and Michael Meacher whose contributions here will be missed.

Can I also take this opportunity to remember my former colleague, David Rendel, who died just this week, and whose by-election victory was transformational to the fortunes of our party.

Those of us who knew him will remember his phenomenal hard work and absolute commitment to the people of Newbury that continued long after he ceased to be the Member of Parliament. He will be sadly missed by many of us.

Spaceport
Mr Speaker, may I start by saying I was most excited to learn that the Modern Transport Bill will enable the development of the UK’s first commercial spaceports, just like Mos Eisley, the spaceport in Star Wars.

I don’t know what inspired the Prime Minister to invest in something that Obi Wan Kenobi said was ‘no greater hive of scum and villainy’… But I’m sure it was definitely… probably… nothing to do with the emergence of the Leave Campaign whatsoever.

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When the Minister didn’t quite get Alistair Carmichael’s sarcasm…

This week, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael  put down an Urgent Question to the Home Secretary after she all too casually said that the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s clear that ,whatever the result of the Referendum, the Tories are desperate to have a big bonfire of all of our most basic rights. What they could object to about things like the right to privacy and freedom of expression is beyond me.

Anyway, Theresa May didn’t bother to turn up to face Alistair. She sent Attorney General Jeremy Wright instead. He didn’t really answer her question, prompting Alistair to say:

I am grateful to the Attorney General for that answer. I should make it clear that I hold him in the very highest regard; I enjoyed working with him as a Minister in the previous Government. But he is not the Home Secretary, and he should not be responding to the urgent question today. The Home Secretary was the one who could make the speech yesterday and she can, apparently, come and make a statement tomorrow. She should be here today. Yesterday she went rogue; today she has gone missing.

There is total confusion at the heart of Government policy. What the Attorney General has just said at the Dispatch Box contradicts clearly what has been said previously. Yesterday the Home Secretary said:

The ECHR can bind the hands of parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity, makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals – and does nothing to change the attitudes of governments like Russia’s when it comes to human rights. So regardless of the EU referendum, my view is this: if we want to reform human rights laws in this country, it isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR and the jurisdiction of its court.”

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Farron: Government has dishonoured Britain’s humanitarian legacy

The Commons had the chance to help 3000 of the most vulnerable children on the planet tonight, children who are currently trapped in refugee camps in Europe.

It was close – only 18 votes in it. The opposition came heartbreakingly close to winning the vote. I feel utterly disgusted at the 294 MPs who supported the Government’s position.

Tim Farron was equally unimpressed:

The Lords has the chance to reinstate this amendment tomorrow. Let’s hope that they take it. Lib Dem Lords will all be voting for it. Baroness Meral Ece said on Twitter tonight:

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Is being an MP a rubbish job?

Nigel Morris in the i reports:

Lonely MPs are finding it almost impossible to balance their jobs with ordinary family life, according to a survey of politicians who quit Parliament at last year’s election.

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Boundary Review is a cynical calculation 

House of Commons. Crown Copyright applies to this photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/4642915654/

Reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 without also looking to cut ministers and a review of the House of Lords means the boundary review is being conducted on a fatally flawed basis.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Constitutional and Political Reform Paul Tyler said: 

This boundary review is being conducted on a fatally flawed basis. The Conservatives have knocked 2 million people office the electoral register, mainly in densely populated areas, as part of a cynical calculation that the boundary review will produce fewer urban, Conservative-hostile constituencies.

Reducing the number of MPs without also reducing the size of the Executive is a mistake. With the pay-roll vote approaching half the membership of the government side of the Commons, the power of government to control Parliament is increased. And with no prospect of democratic reform of the Lords, we are edging towards a dangerous lack of democratic legitimacy in parliament.

The Conservatives are blatantly attempting to fix the system to keep themselves in power.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments
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